UNITED NATIONS - The Security Council has thwarted
by the United States to lift the UN arms embargo against Ethiopia
Eritrea in the wake of a peace agreement signed last month by the
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who expressed strong reservations
proposed US resolution, warned that it was not the appropriate
resume the flow of weapons to a region still struggling to rebuild
Annan said that ''silencing the guns'' did not necessarily mean
peace in the Horn of Africa. ''The two countries face hard work
will need vision, patience and resources,'' he added.
The Secretary-General has also warned that the humanitarian
both countries ''remain a source of serious concern''. In Eritrea,
are over 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) while
more than 350,000.
''The most critical obstacle to their safe return and the
normal life is the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance
along the border,'' he said.
UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters that Annan had ''signaled
concern that the job is not done - as far as achieving permanent
is envisaged in the Security Council resolution''.
On Wednesday the 15-member Security Council decided to postpone
the US resolution to lift the arms embargo. The decision followed
closed-door discussion on the matter. The Council is expected to
Eckhard said the proposed resolution, however, is the Security
resolution. ''They can take any action that they might, and he
not going to interfere in that process,'' Eckhard added.
One of the countries that objected to the resolution is Canada,
contributed over 550 troops to a new
UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) which will oversee the
''It would be better to focus on confidence-building measures at
and give the peacekeeping troops a chance to get set up and to
relationships with people on both sides,'' Canadian Ambassador
The Netherlands, which is contributing more than 1,100 troops, has
warned against immediate lifting of the arms embargo.
When the Security Council imposed the arms embargo last May, it
sanctions will initially last for 12 months ending May this year.
also said that the ban would be lifted if the two countries
The existing embargo bans the sale or supply to Ethiopia and
Eritrea of a
wide range of military equipment, including ammunition, military
paramilitary equipment and even spares.
All ''non-lethal military equipment'', intended solely for
uses and approved in advance by a Security Council committee, was
The Security Council, which includes key arms suppliers to sub-
Africa, decided to cut off military supplies in order to force the
warring parties to the negotiating table.
Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council,
delivered at least six fighter aircraft to Eritrea and eight to
all of them in 1998. The Russian-made MiG fighter planes have been
in dogfights over sub-Saharan skies.
The United States, another permanent member of the Security
supplied four Lockheed C-130 military transports to Ethiopia
1995-1996. All four were second-hand aircraft provided cost-free
legislation designated ''Excess Defence Articles''.
According to the UN Arms Register, Ethiopia has also taken
delivery of 50
T-55 battle tanks from Bulgaria and 40 from Belarus.
The resolution also bars UN member states from providing technical
assistance for the manufacture of weapons or military training
the armed forces of the two countries.
Meanwhile, UNMEE has deployed over three-quarters of its
strength of peacekeepers. As of last week, 71 countries have
3,433 military and 125 civilian personnel. When UNMEE was created
July, the Security Council authorised a peacekeeping force of
troops, including 220 military
Besides Canada and the Netherlands, other key troop contributing
include Jordan, Slovakia, Denmark, Italy, Bangladesh and India.
The political tension between the two African nations has
the rebellious province of Eritrea became an independent nation
May 1993 reducing Ethiopia to the status of a landlocked country.
independence, Eritrea was part of Ethiopia. Eritrea's war of
against Ethiopia lasted about 31 years. Since then, the two
been involved in several border disputes.
US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who led a Security Council
the Horn of Africa last year, described the Ethiopian-Eritrean war
of the worst in Africa.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the
the ''world's largest war'' in 1999 because it involved 250,000
tens of thousands of casualties and over 60,000 civilians
Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun of Algeria, the UN's Special
mediating the dispute, said it was ''the most devastating war in
in terms of the number of people killed.
Copyright 2001 Inter Press Service